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Re: Antique Steamer Trunk... please help

Posted By: James Schooley (0-1pool246-210.nas2.sioux-city1.ia.us.da.qwest.net)
Date: 7/16/4 02:41

In Response To: Antique Steamer Trunk... please help (Robin)

First, you will need to remove the paper from the inside, this will allow you to see the clinched nails that held the old straps, also you will be able to start getting rid of the mildew smell. A wet sponge and warm water will do, but I prefer a sreamer to soften the old paper and glue. The steam is fast and will allow the wood to dry out faster, once you have an area clear of paper, wash off the old glue and dry it off, use a fan if the wood becomes soaked. You can remove some of the mildew with a 1/3 bleach 2/3 warm water mix. Once dry sprinkle the inside with ground cinnamon, brush it into the wood and all the corners, leave the lid shut when possible till the smell is gone, this smells good and also attacks the bacteria that is causing the mildew.

Remove the hardware around the handles by prying the clinched nails from the inside, they will break off and can be punched out with a pointed tool. Figure the legnth and width of the original handles and locate new ones at Van Dyke's.com, also and nails and handle covers (if your trunk has them) that may not have come off in good shape. With careful work they should be reuseable, the nails will not be salvageable. The new nails must be reclinched using a heavy metal object like a sledge hammer or brick held on the inside, also a helper is good. The wood is soft enough that once the nail bends and flattens out, under the sledge hammer, it will become flush inside as well.

Clean the metal with paint thinner and a coarse rag, some dirt may be too stubborn for this and a mild soap and water will do fine, just dry well as you go. The paint on the old metal can be derusted with some oxalic acid, which is very mild and can be used safely with light gloves and safety glasses. You can also use this for reducing dark stains on the wood, apply a saturate solution of oxalic acid crystals (from a paint store) in warm water, when no more will disolve, in the water, it is saturated. Brush this on the wood and metal and allow to dry, apply a few times if needed. The rust and dark stains should be removed, wipe away any powder from the surface with clean warm water and dry well. If the finish is in good shape then you may have to remove it first in order to bleach the stains from the wood. This can be done with denatured alcohol a brush and some rags. Be careful if the alcohol starts to remove the paint from the metal, but it should be fine. Once the finish is off the wood and the stains are gone, give all the wood a light sand with a 150 grit sand paper, tape off the metal with a light stick masking tape to avoid scratching it while sanding.

Choose a danish oil stain that resembles the original color of the wood, follow all the instructions on the can. Once this has dried for 36 hours you can apply a finish, three coats of fresh 2 Lb. cut shellac will do. Light sand between coats with a 320 grit sand paper, and buff with 0000 steel wool after the last coat for a satin sheen. Remove the masking tape and wax the metal and wood with a satin carnuba wax. Do one small area at a time, buff to a satin shine and move on.

Once the outside is done you can repaper the inside, select a paper that is as close to the original as possible. This is not possible, so do this, pick a paper that has a nice fine detail and a fairly plain background. Trunk paper was often plain for men and a little dainty for the ladies so you will need to decide which breed of trunk you have. A good wall paper paste is better than prepasted paper since things in there are far from perfectly smooth. A wood filler will be helpful where voids are noticeable. Often the bottom is bad and here I just cut a new bottom from 1/4" plywood and drop it in with some wood glue and bricks or pails of sand, whatever will hold it all down. Be careful to have the trunk on a flat surface, 1" x 2" s are fine to hold the sagging bottom up while the glue dries. Use a new utility blade to cut the paper and a stright edge. Lay out all the panels so that the lines run around the outside, leave 1" extra to bend over the bottom and over the top. Take the pre cut bottom and fit it in, it should be a little small, the extra on the side will cover. Do the top the same way, once the paper has dried use the stright edge and utility knife to trim the over hanging paper right down the middle of the top edge for a nice wrap over effect. Now is when I will explain that you should have put little corner scraps on the corner edges ahead of this trimming business, as you can see without this little piece the corner will have a V shaped gap in each one, this will fix that. A test run ahead of time will make this come out perfect when you get to that part. Be shure to wipe off any excess glue with a wet sponge, and you are done. Now don't you wish you had some idea of how complicated your question was before you asked? Good luck, and I hope I havn't scared you off, James.

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